a 2009 AL East Preview: 2009 MLB American League East Preview
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2009 MLB American League East Notebook


The diversification in Tampa Bay’s offense is illustrated by its running game. The defending American League Champion Rays lead the majors with 28 stolen bases.

What’s nice is that the thievery has been dispersed. Carl Crawford leads the team with eight, while Jason Bartlett, B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura each have five. But part of the aggression is that manager Joe Maddon has to do something to get his offense moving because it has been a disappointment.

While the Rays have hit 26 home runs this season, they have scored only 97 runs, which was good for only 19 th in baseball and nine runs below the American League average of 103. Do the math and that’s only about 4.5 runs per game. And it doesn’t help when this team’s free swinging approach works against it. The Rays are averaging well over 7 strikeouts per game.

But what’s strange is that the Rays are hitting .281 with runners in scoring position. That’s a very solid number.


If he keeps this up, outfielder Nick Markakis will likely end up in the All-Star game. He is on a 16-game hitting streak where he is hitting 24-for-62 (.387) with 15 RBIs. Markakis needs one more hit to equal his career high of 17.

However, Markakis has a more impressive streak in which he has reached base in 31 consecutive games, the longest streak in baseball.

He has been the bright spot for what has turned into a nightmare of the season. Remember that 6-2 start? Well, a stretch of 3-11 has flipped it to 9-13 after the Angels swept a two-game mini series.

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Alex Rodriguez could come back to the Yankees by May 15. That would be two months after he had surgery on the hip on March 9.

Dr. Marc Philippon said he recently watched a Rodriguez workout and said he was very pleased with the way Rodriguez has been coming along in his rehab work. Rodriguez, the three-time AL MVP, has been working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa.

Rodriguez has taken part of simulated games that are comprised of him swinging multiple times in the batting cage against live pitching – he faced two minor league pitchers – running the baseball and sliding on sliding mat.

When Rodriguez returns, that will bolster the New York offense, which has been up and down. However, the Yankees were getting on a good roll lately scoring 19 runs in the last two games at Detroit.


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When Aaron Hill began the season, the Blue Jays were hoping their second baseman would be the proficient player they envisioned.

Hill has indeed done that. He leads all of baseball with 36 hits, is hitting a very respectable .367 and has hit five home runs with 20 RBIs.

Hill was Toronto’s No. 1 draft choice in 2003. He is a big reason why the Blue Jays are leading baseball in runs scored with 133.

The question will be is whether the Jays will have enough to stay in the race and be legitimate contenders in the East.


When the Red Sox signed right-hander Brad Penny away from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason, it was thought he would add great depth to the likes of Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett.

But Penny has been anything but impressive in his first four starts. He has more walks (11) than strikeouts (6). He has an obscene ERA (8.66) and has lasted only three innings in two of his starts.

He certainly has not enjoyed pitching at Fenway Park. He has a 10.00 ERA in two starts there.



By Kevin Lonnquist
MLBcenter.com Staff Writer

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